Patches to Prevent Pregnancy May Double the Risk for Blood Clots

Health officials draw attention on the use of birth control patches

Birth control patch may bring about side effects in the form of a higher risk of blood clots in the lungs and legs of women who use them. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) warned yesterday that patches to prevent unwanted pregnancy may be more harmful than birth control pills, because they may lead to the development of blood clots, especially in women who are already prone to clots forming in the blood stream.

The FDA warning was based on two previous studies which presented their preliminary findings in February this year. The results of the 2 studies were different, with one study concluding that birth control patches double the risk of blood clots in women as compared to birth control pills, and the other study showing that both birth control methods cause the same clots risk. Another investigation carried out by The Associated Press team found last year that birth control patches increase risks of blood clots in women.

Despite the contradictory conclusions of the researches on the side effects of birth control patches, the FDA warned in a notice published on the official website: "Even though the results of the two studies are conflicting, the results of the second epidemiology study support FDA's concerns regarding the potential for Ortho Evra use to increase the risk of blood clots in some women." Ortho Evra is the birth control patch which should be simpler, and as risk-free as pills which prevent pregnancy.

Blood clots help our body by speeding the healing time of a wound and preventing it from bleeding. However, clots accumulated in the blood vessels can lead to serious health disorders such as pulmonary emboli or leading to an individual's death by stroke or heart attack. This happens because multiple or abnormal blood clots block the arteries or veins and restrict blood flow to normally circulate to the brain or heart.

The clot can also break away from the vein or artery where it forms and circulate through the blood stream, the blood traveling clot being named embolus. This embolus may reach important body organs, like the brain, heart, lungs etc, where it remains and continues to obstruct blood flow. After stabilizing itself within an organ, the embolus causes severe damage to the specific organ.

The final word of FDA for now on the subject was that women who are likely to develop blood clots should consult their doctor before starting to use the birth control patch. Health officials also warned that women who smoke should stay away from birth control patches, because smoking combined with the supposed blood clots risk of the patch may increase smokers' chances for stroke or heart attack.

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